Italian language: Kings and Queens
- WTI Magazine #155 Sep 24, 2022
A few days ago, we’ve witnessed an historical event: the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Whether we are monarchists or not, the death of the longest-reigning monarch in British history holds great importance worldwide. This month I decided to honor this monumental event with some vocabulary related to the topic.
First of all, let’s see a few basic terms: queen is regina, king is re, prince is principe and princess is principessa. Another way of referring to the monarch in power is sovrano or sovrana, sovereign, or monarca, monarch. In order to use them with the person’s first name, you simply put it in front of the name, just like in English. However, something interesting happens here. The first thing you need to know is that Italian used to translate every name of town, city or important figure. So Elizabeth became Elisabetta and Charles became Carlo, therefore we had la regina Elisabetta II (seconda) and Re Carlo III (terzo). The practice of “Italianizing” names is an old one that is no longer in use, so Charles is actually going to be the last of the British Crown to have an Italianized name. In fact, we say il principe William and il principe Harry. Another interesting thing is happening here: if you notice, I said la regina Elisabetta, il principe William, il principe Harry, but Re Carlo. When using all titles along with the person’s first name, you should always use the article; however, wen it comes to the king (only the king), the article is left out. Therefore, it’s la regina Vittoria, la regina Elisabetta, re Giorgio, re Carlo, and, in the future, it will be re William.
But we all know that the royals do not simply stop at re and regina. For example, right now Camilla (who stays Camilla, since Camilla is also an Italian name) is queen consort, la regina consorte. In the past, there was also la regina madre, the queen mother, for example, Queen Elizabeth’s mother was called that way. And then we have the duke, il duca, the duchess, la duchessa, the earl (or count), il conte, and countess, la contessa. And let’s not forget the heir to the throne, l’erede al trono. All of them together are called i reali, royals.
The incoronation, l’incoronazione, of Charles III will take place in about a year or two in a ceremony in which he will receive the crown, la corona, of Saint Edwards. But the coronation is not the only moment that changes a royal’s life. Queen Elizabeth, or to better say her father, was actually not in direct line of succession to the throne, linea di successione al trono, but it was only due to her uincle’s abdication, abdicazione, that her father ascended to the throne, ascendere al trono.
Even though Italy has long abandoned its monarchy and royals, we do love to follow other monarchic countries chronicles, in particular those of Great Britain. If you read or listen to Italian news to practice your Italian, you have probably already read a lot of the words I used today and you’ll continue to see them for the weeks to follow, so I hope the terms are now a bit clearer and easier for you to follow along.